Date Rape Laws in Colorado

Date rape involves sexual intercourse or penetration of another person without their consent. Date rape is charged as felony sexual assault in Colorado. However, drug or alcohol-induced rape may result in more severe criminal penalties. Additionally, if the accused and victim were in an intimate relationship, the sexual assault can be considered domestic violence, with additional penalties.

In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:

Date rape is charged as felony sexual assault in Colorado. However, drug or alcohol-induced rape may result in more severe criminal penalties.

1. What is date rape in Colorado?

Date rape is a term for sexual assault that occurs between people who may be friends, in a dating relationship, or voluntarily spending time together. However, under Colorado law, any rape is a criminal offense, no matter what the relationship is between the victim and perpetrator.

Rape is a form of sexual assault, under C.R.S. 18-3-402. Sexual assault involves any sexual intrusion or sexual penetration on a victim without their consent. This includes sexual assault by submission of the victim, knowledge that the victim is incapable of consent, or facilitating sexual assault by giving the victim drugs or intoxicants.

Date rape may result in additional domestic violence charges if the individuals involved are considered to be in an intimate relationship. An intimate relationship includes “past or present unmarried couples.”1 If the sexual assault occurs between two people on a first date, that may not qualify as an intimate relationship. However, a past or current dating relationship may be considered an intimate relationship and result in additional domestic violence penalties.

2. How does the prosecutor prove that I am guilty of date rape?

A prosecutor needs to show prove the elements of sexual assault under C.R.S. 18-3-402. Sexual assault occurs when any person knowingly inflicts sexual intrusion or sexual penetration on a victim when:

  1. The actor causes submission of the victim by means of sufficient consequences reasonably calculated to cause submission against the victim's will;
  2. The actor knows that the victim is incapable of appraising the nature of the victim's conduct; or
  3. The victim is physically helpless and the actor knows the victim is physically helpless and the victim has not consented.

3. What are the penalties for date rape?

The penalties for date rape depend on a number of factors, including the defendant's criminal history and whether the victim suffered an injury. In many cases, date rape may be charged as a class 4 felony. However, if the perpetrator uses any drug or intoxicant for the purpose of causing submission, this may be charged as a class 3 felony. Sexual assault causing serious bodily injury, use of a deadly weapon, or aided by another person may be charged as a class 2 felony.

Sexual assault is considered an “extraordinary risk” crime in Colorado. This allows for increased criminal penalties. The maximum penalty for a class 4 felony includes up to 8 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000. The maximum penalty for a class 3 felony sexual assault could result in up to 16 years in prison and fines of up to $750,000. The maximum penalty for a class 2 felony sexual assault could result in up to 24 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million.

4. Do I have to register as a sex offender for date rape?

A conviction for date rape or other sexual assault requires registration as a sex offender.2 Your name will be entered into the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's sex offender registry. Anyone may be able to search for felony sex offenders on a state website available to the public.

An individual convicted of date rape will have to register with the local chief of police or county sheriff. This includes providing their name, date of birth, address, place of employment, fingerprints, a photograph, email addresses, and instant messaging or chat room identities. They have to re-register every year within 5 days of their birthday. They also have to re-register if they change address or begin working at an institution of higher education. Sexual assault convictions also subject the individual to lifetime supervision.

5. How do I defend myself against accusations of date rape?

Many people charged with date rape may feel like they have no way to defend themselves. Date rape allegations often involve a situation where two people were alone, with no other witnesses, based only on one person's version of events against another's. Unfortunately, false accusations of date rape are not uncommon.

In some cases, days or weeks may pass before the victim goes to authorities, leaving little to no physical evidence of date rape. In 2016, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill which doubled the statute of limitations on sexual assault cases. Now, criminal charges can be filed for alleged date rape that occurred 20 years ago.

Even if the criminal charges come months or years after the alleged assault, you may have a number of possible defenses in your case. It is also the prosecutor's burden of proof to show that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Possible defenses may include showing no sexual intercourse occurred or the other person consented to sex. Your Colorado criminal defense attorney will examine the evidence, conduct an investigation of the incident, and identify all available defenses in your case.

6. Related Offenses

Date rape is related to other sex crimes or crimes of violence in Colorado. Other related offenses include unlawful sexual contact if no intercourse occurred, or domestic violence assault if the individuals were in an intimate relationship and the assault was not sexual in nature.

6.1 Unlawful Sexual Contact, C.R.S. 18-3-404

Unlawful sexual contact may be considered less serious of an offense than sexual assault.3 This involves the unwanted touching of another person's intimate parts, or causing another to touch one's intimate parts without consent. Groping, fondling, or causing another person to touch one's genitalia, buttocks, or breasts may be charged as a Colorado class 1 misdemeanor. Penalties can include up to 2 years in jail. If the sexual contact involved force, threat, or drugging the other person, it could result in a felony with up to 8 years in prison.

6.2 Domestic Violence Assault, C.R.S. 18-6-801

If people are in an intimate relationship, including dating, any assault may result in domestic violence charges. Assault in Colorado involves intentional, knowing, or reckless bodily injury to another person.4

Domestic violence results in mandatory arrest in Colorado. Even if the people involved do not want to press charges, at least one person will be arrested. Penalties for domestic violence include up to 32 years in prison, a fine of up to $750,000, restraining order, domestic violence counseling, and firearm restrictions.

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If you were accused of date rape or sexual assault, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group. Our caring Colorado DUI lawyers have many years of experience representing facing date rape criminal charges. We are among the best Colorado criminal defense attorneys to call. Contact us today for a free consultation by phone or in-person or in our Denver law office.

Legal References

  1. C.R.S. 18-6-800.3
  2. C.R.S. 16-22-102(9)(a)
  3. C.R.S. 18-3-404
  4. C.R.S. 18-6-801

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